Hardline Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday he was ready for face-to-face talks with his US counterpart Barack Obama, whom he said was being influenced by Israel in his global policies.
Criticising Obama for missing "historic opportunities" to repair the broken relations with Iran, Ahmadinejad said he was ready to discuss issues concerning the international community with the US president.
"We are hopefully coming for the UN assembly," Ahmadinejad said in an address to expatriate Iranians which was broadcast live on state television.
"We are ready to sit down with Mr Obama face-to-face and put the global issues on the table, man-to-man, freely, and in front of the media and see whose solutions are better. We think this is a better approach."
Ahmadinejad is expected to travel to New York for the UN General Assembly meeting next month.
The Iranian president has previously challenged Obama to hold a public debate with him on issues concerning the international community.
He has on various occasions blamed the United States for "global disorders," particularly the financial crisis in the world economy.
His call on Monday comes after a series of punitive sanctions imposed on Iran by the UN Security Council, the United States and the European Union over Tehran's controversial nuclear programme.
Ahmadinejad criticised Obama for missing what he said were "historic opportunities" to repair relations with Iran, with whom the United States has had no direct diplomatic ties for more than 30 years.
"He (Obama) said he wants to make changes and we welcomed (that). Unfortunately, he did not correctly exploit historic opportunities," the hardliner said, adding that Obama "overly values Zionists."
Obama had in March 2009 extended a hand of diplomacy towards Iran in an attempt to break the deadlock between the two countries, but since then the animosity between the two nations has steadily worsened.
Ahmadinejad said he was informed that Obama "is under a lot of pressure."
"Somebody should answer questions whether the US government is dominated by the Zionists or the Zionist regime is controlled by the US government."
Israel, like the United States, has not ruled out a military strike against Iran to halt its nuclear programme.
Ahmadinejad, under whose presidency Iran has been slapped with four sets of UN sanctions, has remained steadfast in pursuing a sensitive uranium enrichment programme, which Washington and other world powers want Tehran to abandon.
Iran says it is not enriching uranium for any military aims.
Under Ahmadinejad, animosity between Iran and Israel has also increased dramatically, with the world powers lashing out at him for his regular anti-Israel tirades.
In front of a cheering audience, Ahmadinejad blasted Obama and Western powers for supporting Israel, the sole if undeclared nuclear weapons power in the Middle East.
"You support a country which has hundreds of atom bombs and you say 'we have to stop Iran' which you say can one day have a bomb. You are disgracing yourselves in the world," he said.
Ahmadinejad reiterated that Iran was ready to hold talks based on "logic" with the world powers.
"The US government recently said it was ready for a high level dialogue. Fine, we are ready to have high level talk based on mutual respect and dignity," he said.
"But if you think you can brandish a stick so that we accept all that you say, that will not happen," he said to roars from the crowd.
Ahmadinejad has ordered a freeze until the end of August on talks with the six world powers -- Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany -- concerning Iran's overall nuclear programme. Talks are expected to begin in September.
But Iran has said it is ready for separate talks with the UN atomic watchdog, the United States, Russia and France over a nuclear fuel swap deal.
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told Iran's Arabic language television Al-Alam on Sunday that the chief of the UN atomic watchdog was seeking to "organise a meeting" with the other parties over the deal.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5goAInT-M2h9cW9VjKSOgRXkQ9MiA
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has said Iran was witnessing a "positive" feedback from the Vienna group over a proposal to supply Tehran with nuclear fuel, an Iranian television channel reported.
Mottaki said Iran's response to questions raised by the Vienna group over a proposal brokered by Brazil and Turkey to supply the fuel to Tehran has led to some "readiness" from the members of the group to talk over the issue.
"We can say this process is a positive signal reflecting the political determination of the Vienna group," he told the Al-Alam Arabic-language channel late on Sunday, referring to the United States, Russia, France that make up the group.
The Vienna group has raised several questions about the proposal submitted by Iran, Brazil and Turkey for the supply of nuclear fuel to power a Tehran-based research reactor. Iran answered the group's questions on July 26.
"The director general of IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) is seeking to organise a meeting with the Vienna group on the basis of Tehran's letter for the exchange of fuel for the Tehran reactor," Mottaki said.
The May 17 proposal by Iran, Turkey and Brazil, known as the Tehran Declaration, stipulates that Iran send 1,200 kilogrammes of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey in return for 20 percent high-enriched uranium to be supplied by Russia and France at a later date.
The world powers led by Washington had previously cold-shouldered the plan and even backed a fourth round of UN sanctions against Iran on June 9.
The UN sanctions have been followed by unilateral punitive measures imposed by the United States and the European Union.
The world powers suspect that Iran is masking a weapons drive under the guise of a civilian atomic programme, while Tehran insists its nuclear programme has no military aims.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5ir0TAK4Nxb95f1h0fvmLT7NXJeQw
A senior Iranian lawmaker has dismissed any restrictions on uranium enrichment to 20 percent, saying Tehran will go ahead with its nuclear activities.
Iran will continue its nuclear activities to enrich uranium to a level of 20 percent if the fuel needed for the Tehran research reactor is supplied, a member of the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of Iran's Parliament (Majlis) Zohreh Elahian told Fars News Agency on Saturday.
She further added that future talks between Iran and the Vienna group -- the US, Russia, France and the International Atomic Energy Agency - or P5+1 - Russia, China, Britain, France and the US plus Germany - should not breach Tehran's inalienable right to use nuclear technology for peaceful applications. "Talks should place no restrictions on the Islamic Republic to produce fuel for the Tehran research reactor or other reactors we plan to build in the future," she said.
The lawmaker pointed to a bill approved by Majlis which requires the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) to supply 20 percent enriched uranium to meet the country's needs and said that uranium enrichment for peaceful purposes has always been among Iran's red lines for nuclear negotiations.
Iran's Parliament approved a bill in July which urges the AEOI to only act in the framework of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and to supply 20 percent enriched uranium to meet the needs of the country's research reactors for medical and industrial applications.
Elahian reiterated that the NPT gives the right to its signatories to conduct nuclear activities for peaceful purposes and said Iran will determine further details about 20 percent enriched uranium.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=136981§ionid=351020104
US and South Korean officials held more talks Tuesday about tightening the sanctions screws on North Korea, as Pyongyang's military threatened to hit back at an upcoming South Korean naval exercise.
Some 10 US officials led by Robert Einhorn, State Department special adviser for non-proliferation and arms control, met senior finance ministry officials.
"The US side briefed us on financial sanctions against the North and Iran and they asked for Seoul's help," Kim Ik-Ju, director of the ministry's international finance bureau, told journalists.
"US officials spent much of the time explaining about sanctions against Iran."
Also at the talks was Daniel Glaser, a senior Treasury official overseeing efforts to combat terrorist financing and financial crimes. He and Einhorn were to leave for Japan later Tuesday.
During a visit to Seoul last month, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced plans to tighten existing sanctions and impose new measures on the North.
They are designed both to punish the North for the alleged sinking of a South Korean warship and to pressure it to scrap its nuclear weapons programme.
Seoul and Washington accuse Pyongyang of torpedoing the ship in March with the loss of 46 lives, a charge it vehemently denies.
South Korea and its US ally held a major naval and air exercise last week to deter cross-border aggression and Seoul will launch its own five-day anti-submarine drill Thursday in the Yellow Sea.
The North's military western command Tuesday described the upcoming exercise as a "direct military invasion".
"In view of the prevailing situation, the (western command) made a decisive resolution to counter the reckless naval firing projected by the group of traitors (South Korea's government) with strong physical retaliation," it said.
The communist state made similar threats against last week's joint exercise in the Sea of Japan, which passed without incident.
Einhorn and Glaser Monday announced plans which could cut off companies and individuals accused of sanctions-busting activities from the international financial system.
Einhorn, in an apparent "name and shame" policy, said Washington would blacklist such entities and individuals and block any property or assets they possess in the United States.
"By publicly naming these entities, these measures can have the broader effect of isolating them from the international financial and commercial system," he said Monday.
In 2005 Washington blacklisted Macau's Banco Delta Asia (BDA) for allegedly handling the North's illicit funds.
The move led to a freeze of 25 million dollars in the North's accounts there and intimidated other banks from doing business with Pyongyang.
Some analysts questioned the effectiveness of fresh financial sanctions, saying North Korea might already have adapted to its painful BDA lesson.
They said the measures were not expected to have much direct impact on the North, which conducts few financial transactions in the United States.
But Glaser said Monday the new curbs would work since "banks throughout the world saw what happened in the BDA case and decided that they were going to be very seriously re-examining the financial relationship with North Korea".
Professor Kim Yong-Hyun of Seoul's Dongguk University said the new US sanctions would merely have a symbolic effect since China remains reluctant to hit its ally North Korea hard.
"The US rhetoric sounds harsh but Washington itself does not want to squeeze the North too hard," he told AFP.
"When the dust whipped up by the sinking incident begins to settle in a month or two, the atmosphere will shift toward dialogue," Kim said, predicting that six-party nuclear disarmament talks could resume in the autumn.
North Korea in April last year stormed out of the talks and carried out its second nuclear test a month later.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5j8Wi6xYjU7F01Qz74CdIQfixCgjw
The U.S. said it is carefully watching the budding secretive relationship between Myanmar and North Korea for signs of nuclear cooperation, as official talks between the authoritarian regimes entered a second day Friday.
North Korea's Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun's four-day visit to Myanmar is shrouded in secrecy. Myanmar has not officially announced the visit is taking place, and few details have leaked out about the nature of the trip, which is Pak's first since the two countries resumed diplomatic ties in 2007.
Asked to comment on the visit, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley urged Myanmar to adhere to U.N. sanctions on North Korea that include restrictions on arms transactions.
"North Korea is a serial proliferator. North Korea is engaged in significant illicit activity. Burma, like other countries around the world, has obligations, and we expect Burma to live up to those obligations," he told reporters Thursday in Washington. He said the lack of transparency surrounding their ties makes it difficult to assess if North Korea is indulging in nuclear proliferation with Myanmar, which is also known as Burma.
"It is something that is of concern to us, given North Korea's historical record. And it is something that we continue to watch very carefully," Crowley said.
Pak went Friday to the junta's headquarters in the administrative capital of Naypyitaw to meet his Myanmar counterpart, Nyan Win, as well as Prime Minister Thein Sein, diplomats and officials said on condition of anonymity to stay below the junta's radar.
The talks begin the substantive part of Pak's visit after since sightseeing on Thursday in Yangon, the biggest city, where he visited the famed Shwedagon Pagoda and the National Museum.
It was not known if Pak would meet junta chief Senior Gen. Than Shwe who returned Thursday from a visit to India.
Myanmar and North Korea are two of Asia's most authoritarian regimes, and both face sanctions by the West. They have had increasingly close ties in recent years, especially in military affairs, and there are fears Pyongyang is supplying the army-led Southeast Asian regime with nuclear technology.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton raised concerns about Myanmar at a security meeting last week with senior Asian officials.
"We continue to be concerned by the reports that Burma may be seeking assistance from North Korea with regard to a nuclear program," Clinton said.
Myanmar denies it is pursuing a nuclear weapons program. Last month the junta dismissed reports on the subject as coming from "army deserters, defectors and dissidents."
Myanmar severed diplomatic relations with North Korea in 1983, following a fatal bombing attack during a visit by South Korea's then-President Chun Doo-hwan that killed 21 people, including four South Korean Cabinet ministers.
Three North Korean commandos involved in the bombing were detained — one blew himself up during his arrest, a second was hanged and a third died in prison in 2008.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ivERD_wQdZYjfZTuRZ-2JbG1nzMQD9H9BD304
1. Korea, U.S. to Discuss Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing This Fall
The Choson llbo
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Korea and the United States have agreed to start talks about the revision of a bilateral atomic energy agreement this fall, it emerged on Monday. Seoul is keen to reprocess its own spent fuel rods, which it is barred from doing under the agreement, but Washington has so far been reluctant to permit it since the process results in the production of weapons-grade plutonium.
But in a meeting Monday with senior Foreign Ministry officials in Seoul, Robert Einhorn, the U.S. State Department's special advisor for non-proliferation and arms control, apparently signaled willingness to consider Seoul's proposal to use a process known as pyroprocessing, which does not produce plutonium that is pure enough for nuclear weapons.
A diplomatic source said, "The U.S. has shown some confidence in Korea's pledge to reuse the spent nuclear fuel peacefully. Concrete technical matters will be reviewed by scientists and engineers of the two countries in negotiations."
Available at: http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2010/08/03/2010080300342.html
2. Japan and Jordan Reached Accord on Nuclear Power Agreement
The Denki Shimbun
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The Japanese government announced July 27 that it had reached a basic accord on the text of a draft nuclear power agreement with the government of Jordan. This is anticipated to pave the way for Japanese export of nuclear power equipment and provision of technology to Jordan. Japan lost in the bidding competition for nuclear power stations in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Vietnam, and observers are eager to see if it can make a rally through the agreement with Jordan.
Jordan has plans to construct four nuclear reactors in the 1,000-MW class over the next 30 years. At present, it is in the process of selecting the contractor for the first reactor. Three groups are in the bidding competition for the reactor: a Japanese-French consortium pairing Mitsubishi Heavy Industries with the French firm Areva, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL), and the state-run Russian firm Atomstroyexport.
In November 2009, the Jordanian government determined policy for mutually separate contracting for the reactor and the power station, and decided not to provide governmental compensation for the construction funding. As a result, a South Korean consortium led by the Korean Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) withdrew from bidding-related activities in Jordan in May of this year.
Available at: http://www.shimbun.denki.or.jp/en/news/20100730_03.html
3. U.S., India Formally Sign Nuclear Reprocessing Pact
Corbett B. Daly
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The United States and India on Friday formally signed an agreement on reprocessing spent nuclear fuel that U.S. officials hope will allow American firms a share of India's $150 billion nuclear energy market.
The agreement, signed by Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Bill Burns and Indian Ambassador to the United States H.E. Meera Shankar, will enable Indian reprocessing of U.S.-originated nuclear material under the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.
It is part of the countries' 2008 bilateral civilian atomic pact that ended India's nuclear isolation after its 1974 atomic test. The pact gave India access to U.S. technology and fuel, while also opening up the global nuclear market to India.
"Increased civil nuclear trade with India will create thousands of new jobs for the U.S. economy while helping India to meet its rising energy needs in an environmentally responsible way by reducing the growth of carbon emissions," the U.S. State Department said in a press release.
The pact is expected to enter into force in early August. But a hurdle remains before U.S. firms are expected to begin participating in the Indian nuclear market.
U.S. firms are reluctant to do business in India without legislation that underwrites their compensation liability in the case of industrial accidents.
Legislation to limit nuclear firms' liability in the case of industrial accidents has stalled in the Indian parliament, though it has been cleared by the cabinet.
Opposition parties seek to put a maximum liability of about $450 million on the state-run reactor operator without placing any compensation burden on private suppliers and contractors.
India has offered to tender construction of two nuclear power plants, a business opportunity worth $10 billion, to U.S.-based firms such as General Electric Co and Westinghouse Electric Co, a subsidiary of Japan's Toshiba Corp.
But the liability issue has put U.S. firms at a competitive disadvantage over Russian and French firms whose accident liability is underwritten by their governments. The Russian and French have already been awarded contracts.
Available at: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20100731/pl_nm/us_usa_india_nuclear
International Atomic Energy Agency's Director General Yukiya Amano on Monday acknowledged that India was continuing to abide by its commitments under its 2008 safeguards accord with the IAEA.
Certifying India's compliance by using the words “yes” and “no problem,” Mr. Amano expressed the “view that placing more [nuclear] facilities of India under the IAEA safeguards is a good thing.” He did not, however, wish to prescribe a formula by which Pakistan could source China's help in the civil nuclear domain in the present circumstances.
He was responding to The Hindu and Singapore's Ambassador-at-Large, Tommy Koh, on issues relating to India's engagement with the IAEA and the latest moves for a China-Pakistan civil nuclear deal. The IAEA chief was fielding questions after delivering a lecture at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy here. Mr. Koh presided over the session.
Mr. Amano said: “The IAEA's role is to place nuclear facilities and nuclear materials under safeguards. In the case of non-nuclear-weapon states, all the nuclear material and facilities should be placed under the IAEA safeguards. This is a rule. In the case of nuclear-weapon-states under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or non-members of the NPT, this rule does not apply. It means that this [aspect] of safeguards is applied facility by facility. It is better that 20 facilities, for example, are placed under safeguards than only 10. This is my view about placing the Indian facilities under safeguards. In the past, seven [Indian facilities] were placed under the IAEA safeguards. After the agreement is completed, 14 will be [so] placed. [However] I do not remember the exact figure now.”
“Pakistan is [also] a non-member of the NPT. Safeguards will apply facility by facility [under an existing Pakistan-IAEA agreement]. On whether to make Pakistan an exception like the Nuclear Suppliers Group did for India, that is a matter of the NSG. That is not something that I can dabble in.”
On whether the IAEA could suggest a model bill on civil nuclear liability by which countries like India could benchmark their relevant legislation, Mr. Amano said “there are several conventions” on this “very complicated issues.”
Tracing the current controversies over Iran's nuclear programme, Mr. Amano, answering questions from other participants during the dialogue session, said he was now seized of the latest Iranian communication to him. “I have some positive reaction from [the IAEA] member-states. We have to consider [the] role of Brazil and Turkey.”
Available at: http://www.thehindu.com/news/article548354.ece
2. IAEA Experts to Inspect Site for New Unit at Armenian NPP
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A group of experts from the International Atomic energy Agency (IAEA) will arrive on Monday in Armenia to inspect the site for the construction of a new power unit at the Armenian nuclear power plant.
Ashot Martirosyan, chairman of the State committee on nuclear security, said the IAEA officials will study the results of geological, seismological and other surveys conducted at the site since 2009.
Armenia plans to build a new 1,000-mWt power unit at the existing Armenian nuclear plant. The construction is scheduled to start in 2011 and the new unit is expected do become operational by 2017.
The only currently operational unit at the NPP must be shut down by that time, the official said.
The Armenian NPP, which is located 30 kilometers (about 19 miles) from the capital, Yerevan, was put in service in 1980 and shut down in March 1989 following a powerful earthquake in December 1988 that killed at least 25,000 people.
The NPP became operational again in 1995 to provide electricity during a severe energy crisis in the country. At present, only one out of two power units remains active, producing up to 50% of all electricity in the former Soviet republic.
Experts estimate that the unit could work safely until at least 2016
Available at: http://en.rian.ru/world/20100802/160035220.html
1. International Nuclear Safety Experts Conclude IAEA Peer Review of China's Regulatory System
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An international team of senior experts on nuclear safety regulation today completed a two-week International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) review of the governmental and regulatory framework for nuclear safety in the People´s Republic of China.
The team identified good practices within the system and gave advice on areas for future improvements. The IAEA has conveyed the team´s main conclusions to the Government of the People´s Republic of China. The final report will be submitted to China by Autumn 2010.
At the request of Chinese authorities, the IAEA assembled a team of 22 experts to conduct an Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission. This mission is a peer review based on the IAEA Safety Standards. It is not an inspection, nor an audit.
The experts came from 15 different countries: Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Hungary, Japan, Pakistan, the Republic of Korea, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Ukraine and the United States.
Mike Weightman, the United Kingdom´s Head of Nuclear Directorate, HSE and HM Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations said: "I was honoured and pleased to lead such a team of senior regulatory experts from around the world, and I was impressed by their commitment, experience and hard work to provide their best advice possible. We had very constructive interactions with the Chinese authority to maximize the beneficial impact of the mission."
The scope of the mission included the regulation of nuclear and radiation safety of the facilities and activities regulated by the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA). The mission was conducted from 18 to 30 July, mainly in Beijing. To observe Chinese regulatory activities, the IRRS team visited several nuclear facilities, including a nuclear power plant, a manufacturer of safety components for nuclear power plants, a research reactor, a fuel cycle facility, a waste management facility, industrial and medical radioactive sources and the nuclear and radiation accident emergency centre.
The IRRS team reviewed the following regulatory areas: the government´s responsibilities and functions in the nuclear safety regime; the responsibilities and functions of the regulatory body and its management system; the activities of the regulatory body including authorizations; review and assessment; inspection and enforcement processes; and the development of regulations and guides.
The IAEA´s IRRS coordinator Gustavo Caruso said, "This mission was a big challenge for the Agency because of the significant expansion of China´s nuclear programme in the context of the nation´s current regulatory activities."
The IRRS team identified particular strengths in the Chinese regulatory system, including:
* Leadership´s expression of a high-level commitment to nuclear safety and its regulation;
* The cultural environment that turns such commitment into practical activities;
* The extensive use of IAEA Safety Standards in the development of China´s legislative framework; and
* At a more detailed level, the system of registering a cadre of high level nuclear safety engineers.
The safety leadership in China has been seen in many areas and levels, the Government, regulatory body and utilities, providing confidence in the effectiveness of the Chinese safety regulatory system and the future safety of the vast expanding nuclear industry.
The IRRS team also made recommendations to improve the overall performance of China´s regulatory system. Examples include:
* Nuclear safety-related legislation and policies should be further enhanced for all nuclear activities, including radioactive waste management;
* Regulatory bodies should be provided with greater flexibility and resources, both financial and human, to keep pace with the China´s nuclear development programme;
* As part of its strategy to achieve high standards of safety during a period of rapid growth, greater capability to access international experience and cooperation should be provided;
* With the very significant increase in regulatory work and associated resources, the structure of the MEP NNSA should be enhanced;
* In line with the development of the nuclear power industry, a commensurate increase to other parts of the fuel cycle and to waste management should be required. Associated with this, it was recommended that a comprehensive national policy and strategy for the management of radioactive and spent fuel should be established, as well as a single agency to implement the national strategy for radioactive waste; and
* At a detailed level, improvements in the various regulatory activities should be undertaken, such as greater utilisation of risk-informed and graded approaches.
IAEA Deputy Director General Tomihiro Taniguchi said, "I witnessed myself the very intensive work of the team and correspondingly commitment of the Chinese Government to achieve a high level of safety against a background of massive expansion of the nuclear energy programme."
Available at: http://www.iaea.or.at/NewsCenter/PressReleases/2010/prn201010.html
The United States is losing the nuclear forensics skills that could help identify the source of a nuclear weapon used in a terrorist attack, a report says.
The highly specialized detective work, called nuclear attribution, studies clues from fallout and radioactive debris to discover the identity of the attacker and the source or manufacturer of the weapon, a National Research Council study published last week said.
Arguing that nuclear terrorism is a serious, long-term threat to the United States, federal officials have sought to improve such analytic skills in recent years.
The NRC report, requested by the Department of Homeland Security, the Defense Department and the National Nuclear Security Administration, found U.S. forensic abilities "fragile, under resourced and, in some respects, deteriorating."
"Without strong leadership, careful planning and additional funds, these capabilities will decline," the report warned.
Most of those capabilities are in the laboratories that maintain the nation's nuclear arsenal that had their heyday during the cold war but are now struggling to attract personnel, get funding for projects and establish new identities, the report said.
Available at: http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2010/08/02/Report-US-needs-nuclear-forensics/UPI-44931280792667/
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